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Know the Laws: Louisiana

UPDATED April 14, 2017

Protective Orders (for Domestic Abuse)

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A protective order is a civil order that provides protection from a family or household member or a dating partner.

Basic information

back to topWhat is the legal definition of domestic abuse in Louisiana?

This section defines domestic violence/abuse for the purposes of getting a protective order.  "Domestic abuse" includes, but is not limited to, one or more of the following acts between "family members" or "household members" or "dating partners":

  1. physical abuse;
  2. sexual abuse;
  3. stalking, cyberstalking or any other offense (physical or non-physical) in the Criminal Code of Louisiana (except for negligent injury and defamation) - you can read the Criminal Code of Louisiana on the LA Legislature website; and
  4. elder abuse, which is defined as "abuse or neglect" of an adult committed by an adult child or adult grandchild.*

* LA R.S. 46:2132(4)

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back to topWhat types of protective orders are there? How long do they last?

There are three types of protective orders:

Emergency Temporary Restraining Orders: If you are in need of emergency protection outside of regular court hours, the court may grant you an emergency temporary restraining order if there is an "immediate and present danger of abuse." The judge must consider any and all past history of abuse, or threats of abuse, in determining whether or not there is an immediate and present danger of abuse. (There is no requirement that the abuse itself be recent, immediate, or present.)  If you are issued this order, it will only be good until the close of the next business day that the court is open. For the protection to remain in effect, you must go to court before the close of the next business day to request a temporary restraining order and/or a protective order.*

Temporary Restraining Orders: When you go to court to file for a long-term protective order, you can also ask for a temporary restraining order (TRO). The court may issue you a TRO during an ex parte hearing without the abuser present if there is an "immediate and present danger of abuse." The judge must consider any and all past history of abuse, or threats of abuse, in determining whether or not there is an immediate and present danger of abuse. (There is no requirement that the abuse itself be recent, immediate, or present.)  As soon as a TRO is issued, the abuser will be notified that you have an order against him/her. The court will give you a date (usually within 21 days) for a full court hearing where you and the abuser each have a chance to be present and tell your sides of the story.**

Long-term Protective Orders: A long-term protective order can be issued only after a court hearing where you and the abuser both have the opportunity to tell your sides of the story to a judge. You must attend that hearing.  If you do not go to the hearing, your TRO may expire and you will have to start the process over.  A long-term order will last for up to 18 months, unless otherwise stated.***  However, the part of the order that says the abuser should not "abuse, harass, or interfere with the petitioner or his/her employment; should not go near the residence or place of employment of the petitioner, the minor children, or any person on whose behalf a the petition was filed" can last for an indefinite (unlimited) period of time.****  Orders may also be extended.  See How do I change, extend, or cancel my protective order?

* LA R.S. 46:2135(A),(F)
** LA R.S. 46:2135(A)
*** LA R.S. 46:2136(F)(1)
**** LA R.S. 46:2136(F)(2)(a); see also LA R.S. 46:2135(A)(1)

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back to topHow can a protective order help me?

In a temporary restraining order, a judge may order the abuser to:

  • Stop threatening, harassing, or hurting you;
  • Not contact or interfere with you or your children (and give you temporary custody);
  • Stay away from your residence, place of employment, school, etc.;
  • Prevent you and the abuser from giving away, selling, or destroying any mutually-owned property;
  • Move out of the residence (if you live together);
    • Note: If the abuser solely owns or leases the house or apartment, s/he may not be asked to move out;
  • Return your personal property to you; and/or
  • Give you possession of your pet or order the abuser to stop abusing your pet.

In a long-term protective order (after a full hearing), a judge may:

  • Order all of the relief listed above (in the temporary restraining order section);
  • Establish temporary visitation;
  • Award you temporary support;
  • Order the abuser to attend counseling or get a professional medical evaluation;
  • Order the abuser to pay court costs and other fees, such as expert witness fees, medical bills and/or psychological bills.*

Note: Louisiana law prohibits the defendant (abuser) from possessing a firearm while the long-term protective order is in effect if the order includes a finding that the defendant represents a credible (believable) threat to the petitioner's physical safety and the order includes a notice to the defendant about this law and the federal firearm law.**

*  LA R.S. §§ 46:2135; 46:2136
**  LA R.S. § 46:2136.3

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back to topIn which parish can I file for a protective order?

You can file for a protective order in the parish where the marital home is located (or the home you shared with the abuser if you are unmarried), where you live, where the abuser lives, where the abuse occurred, or where divorce or annulment proceedings could be filed.*

* LA R.S. 46:2133(B)

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Who can get a protective order

back to topWho can get a protective order?

In Louisiana, you can seek legal protection from acts of domestic abuse done to you or your minor child by:

  • a family or household member, which includes your:
  • spouse or former spouse;
  • child, step-child, foster child, or grandchild;
  • parent, step-parent, foster parent or grandparents;* or
  • a dating partner, which is defined as any person who you have had an intimate or romantic relationship with, including a same-sex partner.  The judge will decide whether you have an intimate or romantic dating relationship based on:
  • the length of your relationship;
  • the type of relationship between yourself and the abuser; and
  • how often you and the abuser interacted.**

* LA R. S. 46: 2121.1(1)
** LA R. S. 46: 2151

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back to topCan I get a protective order against a same-sex partner?

In Louisiana, you may apply for a protective order against a current or former same-sex partner as long as the relationship meets the requirements listed in Who can get a protective order?  You must also be the victim of an act of domestic abuse, which is explained here What is the legal definition of domestic abuse in Louisiana?

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back to topCan I get a protective order if I'm a minor?

Yes.  However, as a minor (a person under the age of 18), you will need a parent, an adult household member or a district attorney to file for the protective order on your behalf.*

For the definition of a family or household member, see Who can get a protective order?

* LA R.S. 46: 2133(D)

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back to topCan I keep my insurance coverage even though my abusive spouse was the policyholder?

Probably. If you are a victim of domestic abuse and you are covered under your spouse's policy, you may be able to convert that insurance coverage to your own policy for you and your dependent children upon the judgment of divorce or judgment of legal separation from the abusive spouse.  The converted policy is supposed to provide the same benefits, including deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments, as the policy from which coverage is being converted.*

In order to convert the coverage to your own individual policy, you should:

  • Notify the health insurance company that you want to convert your spouse's policy into your own individual policy within 30 days of receiving the notice of termination; AND
  • Provide the health insurance company with a copy of the divorce decree or separation order.*

*  LA R.S. 22:1078(C)

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back to topAre there fees to get a protective order? Do I need a lawyer?

Nothing. There are no filing fees and court costs for this process.*  For other questions about filing, you can find contact information for courthouses on the LA Courthouse Locations page.

Although you do not need a lawyer to file for a protective order, it may be to your advantage to seek legal counsel, especially if the abuser has a lawyer.  If you cannot afford a lawyer but want one to help you with your case, you can find contact information for lawyers on our LA Finding a Lawyer page. 

* LA R.S. 46:2134(F)

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Steps for obtaining a protective order

back to topStep 1: Fill out the necessary forms and file them in court.

To start your case, you will need to fill out the necessary forms.  You may find it helpful to get the forms first and fill them out at home or with an advocate from a local domestic violence organization. You will find links to forms online on the LA Download Court Forms page.

On the forms, you are the "petitioner" and your abuser is the "defendant."  Read the petition carefully and ask questions of the court clerk if you don’t understand something.  Write about the most recent incidents of violence, using descriptive language (slapping, hitting, grabbing, choking, threatening, etc.) that fits your situation. Be specific. Include details and dates, if possible.

A domestic violence organization may be able to provide you with help or support as you fill out the forms. See LA State and Local Programs for the location of an organization near you.

Note: Do not sign the application until you have shown it to a clerk. The form may need to be notarized or signed in the presence of court personnel, which will likely require you to have photo identification.

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back to topStep 2: A judge will review your petition and may issue a TRO.

After you finish filing your paperwork, the clerk will forward it to a judge. The judge may wish to ask you questions as s/he reviews your petition. The judge will decide whether or not to issue the temporary restraining order (TRO) and will set a court date for a full hearing for a protective order.  The court may issue you a TRO during an ex parte hearing without the abuser present if there is an "immediate and present danger of abuse." The judge must consider any and all past history of abuse, or threats of abuse, in determining whether or not there is an immediate and present danger of abuse. (There is no requirement that the abuse itself be recent, immediate, or present.)*  You will be given a copy of your petition, along with papers that state the time and date of your hearing for a long-term protective order.

By the end of the next business day, the clerk will get the order entered into the Louisiana Protective Order Registry and send a copy of it to the chief law enforcement officer of the parish where you live.**

* LA R.S. 46:2135(A)
** LA R.S. 46:2135(H)

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back to topStep 3: Service of process

The clerk will give a copy of the petition and the TRO to the sheriff's office to serve the abuser.  Remember, your protective order is NOT valid until the abuser has been served with it.  The abuser must be notified and have the opportunity to be present in court on the date and time of the hearing and informed of any temporary or emergency orders that a judge has granted you.

Usually the court will send copies of the order and notice of hearing to the police or sheriff, but in some areas you may have to bring the papers to the sheriff or police yourself. You may want to ask the court clerk or a domestic violence organization for more information about serving the abuser.   By the end of the next business day, the clerk will also get the order entered into the Louisiana Protective Order Registry and send a copy of it to the chief law enforcement officer of the parish where you live.*

Do not try and serve the abuser in person with the papers yourself.

* LA R.S. 46:2136(H)

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back to topStep 4: The full court hearing

You must go to this hearing if you want to get a final protective order. If you do not go to the hearing, your temporary order will expire and you will have to start the process over. If you do not show up at the hearing it may possibly be harder for you to be granted an order in the future.  If the abuser does not show up for the hearing, the judge may still grant you a long-term protective order, or the judge may order a new hearing date.  If you cannot go to the hearing at the scheduled time, you may call the judge's office to ask that your case be "continued," but the judge may deny your request.

You may wish to hire a lawyer to help with your case, especially if the abuser has a lawyer. If you show up to court and the abuser has a lawyer and you do not, you may ask the judge for a "continuance" to set a later court date so you can have time to find a lawyer for yourself.  You can also represent yourself. See the Preparing Your Case section for information on representing yourself. 

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After the hearing

back to topWhat should I do when I leave the courthouse?

Review the protective order before you leave the courthouse.  If something is wrong or missing, you might be able to ask the clerk how to get it corrected.  Here are some things that you may want to do when leaving the courthouse:

  • Keep a copy of the protective order with you at all times.
  • Leave copies of the order at your workplace, at your home, at the children's school or daycare, in your car, with a sympathetic neighbor, and so on.
  • Give a copy to the security guard or person at the front desk where you live and/or work along with a photo of the abuser.
  • Give a copy of the order to anyone who is named in and protected by the order.
  • If the court has not given you an extra copy for your local law enforcement agency, you may want to take one of your extra copies and deliver it to them.
  • You may wish to consider changing your locks and your phone number if permitted by law.
  • Be aware of your safety while leaving the courthouse.  If you are concerned that the abuser may try to approach you, contact a court officer to see if you can be accompanied to your car.
Ongoing safety planning is important after receiving the protective order.  People can do a number of things to increase their safety during violent incidents, when preparing to leave an abusive relationship, and when they are at home, work, and school.  Many abusers obey protective orders, but some do not and it is important to build on the things you have already been doing to keep yourself safe.  View our Staying Safe page for some suggestions.  Advocates at local resource centers can assist you in designing a safety plan and can provide other forms of support.  For a list of domestic violence organizations, see our LA State and Local Programs page.

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back to topI was not granted a protective order. What are my options?

If you are not granted a protective order, there are still some things you can do to stay safe. It might be a good idea to contact one of the domestic violence resource centers in your area to get help, support, and advice on how to stay safe. They can help you develop a safety plan and help connect you with the resources you need. For safety planning help, ideas, and information, go to our Staying Safe page. You will find a list of Louisiana resources on our LA State and Local Programs page.

If you were not granted a protective order because your relationship with the abuser does not qualify as a "family or household member” or "dating partner" you may be able to seek protection through a sexual assault protective order or a protective order for stalking.

You may also be able to reapply for a protective order if a new incident of domestic abuse occurs after you are denied the order.

If you believe the judge made an error of law, you can talk to someone at a domestic violence organization or a lawyer about the possibility of an appeal. Generally, appeals are complicated and you will most likely need the help of a lawyer. See our Filing Appeals page for basic information on appeals.

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back to topWhat is the Louisiana Protective Order Registry?

The Louisiana Protective Order Registry (LPOR) was set up by the Supreme Court of Louisiana for the purpose of enhancing court-ordered protections for victims and their children, and to aid law enforcement, prosecutors and the courts in handling cases involving intimate partner violence.  The LPOR is a database of court orders, including:

  • Temporary restraining orders
  • Long-term protective orders
  • Preliminary injunctions
  • Permanent injunctions
  • Court-approved consent agreements
  • Criminal stay away orders such as peace bonds, bail restrictions, sentencing orders, or probation conditions.

Police and other law enforcement agencies anywhere in the state can find out about an order by checking a computerized registry of orders.*

* LA R.S. 46:2136.2

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back to topWhat can I do if the abuser violates the order?

Through the Police or Sheriff (Criminal): If the abuser violates the protective order, you can call 911 immediately.  Tell the officers you have a TRO or a protective order and the defendant is violating it.  The law says that if a law enforcement officer has reason to believe that a family or household member or dating partner has been abused in violation of a temporary or final restraining order/protective order, the officer is supposed to immediately arrest the abuser.*  If the abuser is arrested, and found guilty of a violation, s/he can be forced to pay a fine and/or go to jail.  The penalties can vary, depending on whether or not it is his/her first conviction for violation of a protective order or not.  The penalty increases for each conviction as well as the penalty can be more severe if the violation involves battery or any crime of violence.  To read about the penalties, go to our LA Statutes page. 

Even if the police do not arrest at the scene, law enforcement officers are supposed to at least issue a summons to the abuser if there is probable cause that the order was violated.**

Make sure a police report is filled out, even if no arrest is made.  (If no arrest is made, you may still be able to file a criminal complaint against the abuser.)  If you have legal documentation of all violations of the order, it may help you have the order extended or modified.  It is a good idea to write down the name of the responding officer(s) and their badge number in case you want to follow up on your case.

Through the Civil Court System (Civil): You may file for civil contempt for a violation of the order.  The abuser can be held in "civil contempt" if s/he does anything that your protective order orders him/her not to do.**

* LA R.S. 46:2140(A)
** LA R.S. 14:79(E)
*** See LA R.S. 46:2137

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back to topHow do I change or extend my protective order?

If you wish to change the terms of the order, a "Request to Modify" can be filed.  A judge can modify a protective order to exclude any item included in the prior order, or to include any item that could have been included in the prior order.*

If you want to extend your protective order, you must apply for an extension (a motion to modify the order) before your original order expires.  A judge can extend an order in the judge's discretion.  The abuser may file to modify the indefinite term of the protective over (if your order has an indefinite term) - if so, you should be notified of this hearing.**

* LA R.S. 46:2136(D)(1)
** LA R.S. 46:2136(F)(1),(2)(c)

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back to topWhat happens if I move?

If you move within Louisiana, your order will still be valid and good.  It is a good idea to call the clerk to change your address.  Read more about this on our Moving with a Protective Order page.

Additionally, the federal law provides what is called "Full Faith and Credit," which means that once you have a criminal or civil protection order, it follows you wherever you go, including U.S. Territories and tribal lands.  If you are moving to a new state, you may want to call the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit (1-800-903-0111 x 2) for information on enforcing your order in another state.

Note:  For information on enforcing a military protective order (MPO) off the military installation, or enforcing a civil protection order (CPO) on a military installation, please see our Military Protective Orders page.

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